Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance volunteers donate service to Foundation for Dreams’ landscaping.

Peggy Kronus with Willis A. Smith Construction enjoys volunteering for nonprofits. “By myself I can’t do much, but together we can make a difference,” Kronus says.









When Dom DiMaio, the CEO and president of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, arrived at East County’s Foundations for Dreams on Oct. 1, he went right to work.

He began by clearing the underbrush near the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Cabin as part of the foundation’s beautification project during the annual Alliance Gives Back event.

“This is something special for me,” said DiMaio, who has previously served on Foundation for Dreams’ board. “The children don’t have many places to go, so this is a special place. My wife, [Rita], and I try to get out here every Fourth of July to give the kids ice cream. They love it. It’s a small token, but they truly enjoy it.”

The beautification project came at a perfect time because Foundation for Dreams was reopening its Dream Oaks Camp on Oct. 2. At least 10 volunteers from businesses and organizations in Sarasota and Bradenton came to be part of the Alliance Gives Back project, helping to clear the sidewalks, trim bushes and plant flowers.

Elena Cassella, the executive director of Foundation for Dreams, said the volunteers who normally would help with the upkeep of the grounds weren’t able to help due to COVID-19, and the nonprofit only has four full-time staff members.

“They’re making it a place where the kids and the families feel welcome,” Cassella said of the alliance volunteers. “Having people who serve others is important to nonprofits like us. Nonprofits were hit hard by COVID-19, so everything we don’t have to pay out of pocket is a benefit and perk to us.”

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